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Oil bonanza as 1.6bn barrels of crude found

IRELAND is set for an oil boom after a well off the Cork coast was found to contain over 400pc more crude than anticipated.

Providence Resources revealed that its latest test data on the Barryroe Field -- located some 50km off the south coast -- showed significantly more oil reserves than first anticipated.

The latest data -- including seismic tests and results from four special test drill sites -- indicate that the field could contain as much as 1.6bn barrels of oil.

This is four times greater than first expected -- and puts the Irish well on the scale of a small to medium size North Sea oil field.

The news is a dramatic boost for the Government given that any commercial oil operation off the Irish coast would offer significant tax revenues -- and would encourage further oil and gas exploration in Irish waters.

Providence boss Tony O'Reilly said the data is very encouraging.

"The results of this Barryroe oil assay vindicate our proposition that high value crudes exist in the shallow waters off the south coast of Ireland," he said.

"Our well-testing results, and subsequent horizontal modelling, has demonstrated that these crudes can be produced at commercially attractive rates."

The news follows previous encouraging drill test results on the Barryroe Field.

Providence had hoped that its initial test drills would deliver an oil flow of 1,800 barrels a day -- but it actually delivered over 3,500 barrels.

The latest tests indicate that the field contains vastly more oil reserves than anyone had expected -- and further underlines the commercial viability of the field.

Providence -- which is quoted on both the Dublin and London stock exchanges -- had its share price trade at over €8 yesterday -- up from €5 a few months ago, with some stock market analysts indicating that the share price could still rise further.

Ireland's first major oil-gas reserves were found in the Kinsale Head field off the Cork coast in the 1960s, but that field is now virtually exhausted.

The previous major find was the Corrib Gas field off the Mayo coast which is being commercially developed.

If the Barryroe Field is commercially developed it is expected to also generate a major jobs boost for the south-west region.

Experts say it is too early to say what impact the Barryroe Field will have on the oil price in Ireland -- or if it will lead to a reduction in petrol and diesel prices for motorists.

hnews@herald.ie